‘It’s an unseen illness’ – Dublin woman’s struggle with incurable EB

Debra Claudia Scanlon, Aoife Murdock, Emma Fogarty

A national charity recently urged the Government to give the cost of two coffees a day to protect those living with a rare and incurable skin condition.   

Debra is asking for just €810,000 to be ringfenced in Budget 2024 to support the estimated 300 people living with extremely painful epidermolysis bullosa (EB) in Ireland.   

A South Dublin woman who lives with the disease, today told how it leaves her “wrecked” once she has a big flare up.    

“It just makes everything so much harder. It’s an unseen illness,” Aoife Murdock, 42, said.

“There are times you would love help, but you can’t get it and don’t feel you can ask for it.”    

The charity’s ‘Small ask, big impact’ Pre-Budget Submission outlines four key requests – including a care co-ordinator within the HSE to link Ireland’s entire EB community to supports.   

EB or ‘Butterfly skin’, is caused by the absence of proteins which bind the skin together, creating excruciating blistering at the mildest touch or movement – in severe cases requiring bandaging every 24 hours.   

“Bearing in mind the lifelong pain, physical and mental trauma that people go through with EB, what we are looking for is a tiny fraction of the current €23billion health budget,” said Joanna Joyce, Head of Advocacy with Debra.   

“In fact, when calculated, the €810,000 ask registers as 0.003% of that total.    

“In many cases, EB is an invisible condition which has a hugely negative impact on people’s lives, yet those living with it are still struggling to access vital supports and services.   

“A big gap that we see is the lack of a central point of contact in the community for a family to liaise with, so that they can be signposted to help and supports.”   

Debra says in addition to the care co-ordinator costing €75,000, the €810,000 investment is also desperately needed to fund:   

* a clinical psychologist supporting adults, allowing them to access specialist mental health assistance (€80,000);   

* a ring-fenced fund for home nursing care to look after people living with the most severe forms of EB, who require frequent bandage changes, allowing them to access flexible care packages (€580,000);   

* an EB outreach nurse based in St James’ Hospital, Dublin, supporting adults and providing an essential link between hospital and community and supporting infection assessment at home (€75,000).   

The funding would support those with the four main types of EB – simplex, junctional, dystrophic and kindler.    

Based on the estimated 300 people living with EB in Ireland, the investment Debra is seeking would cost the Government €7.40 per person a day, or two cups of takeaway coffee.   

The charity is also asking families and supporters to retweet and tag Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly in a bid to secure a meeting to outline the importance of the pre-Budget requests. See debra.ie.  

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Sarah Brooks

Sarah has worked in marketing and content creation for many years. In her role at Newsgroup, she is the online editor of www.newsgroup.ie with a particular interest in local news and events. Sarah also works closely with our editorial team on our printed editions in Tallaght, Lucan, Clondalkin and Rathcoole/Saggart. If you have a story and would like to make contact please email Sarah at info@newsgroup.ie.



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